World football governing body FIFA says South Africa is half-way through to organising a “perfect” World Cup and one of the best the world has seen.
General Secretary Jerome Valcke even joked on Saturday that South Africa could now be seen as “plan B” for future organisers.
“I mean we have gone beyond our targets on everything, the number of visitors to South Africa has passed our expectations and the number of tickets is higher than what we sold in Germany, so maybe South Africa will become plan B for the future,” Valcke told reporters at a press conference to mark the beginning of the Round of 16.
He said contrary to earlier fears that people would be discouraged to travel to South Africa for the World Cup due to the economic recession and crime concerns, numbers are showing that the tournament could emerge as one of the best in terms of attendance by both local and international fans.
Statistics released by Home Affairs Department recently indicated that more than 450 000 people had visited South Africa from 1st June 2010. Most of the people interviewed said they had come to the country for the World Cup.
“We know we are half-way through but apart from transportation issues we had during the opening match, everything had been going so well. Every day we are meeting just to sort out a few issues but I can tell you my last meeting lasted for one minute which tells everything is well,” Valcke said.
He said organisers were now working to ensure that things go smoothly for the closing ceremony as they did on 11th June when millions of people across the world watched the spectacular opening ceremony from Soccer City.
Valcke said several heads of state and government, especially those whose teams will be playing in the final, were expected to attend the closing ceremony on 11th July.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is already in the country, perhaps an indication of his confidence that this World Cup’s favourites, the five-time world champions Brazil, may make it to the final.